here they are:
"Brighter" by Ozomatli: Until recently I overlooked this group. They've got it all, though! Latin, rock, jazz, soul, and reggae all wrapped up into one neat little package!! Their best known song so far is probably "Who Discovered America?", partly due to it being featured in the romantic comedy, "Never Been Kissed". "Brighter" is probably Ozomatli's most reggae inflected track so far. Its easy, flowing mix of reggae, pop, rock, and hip-hop influences recall some of the earlier Michael Franti songs. It also shares a lot of Franti's positive messages as well ("world is gonna look much brighter").
"Do I Look Worried?" by The Tedeschi-Trucks Band: Back when I first reviewed The Tedeschi-Trucks Band about three years ago, I had not expected them to be such heavy hitmakers on adult alt radio (arguably more than Tedeschi's solo work). Another thing I would not have expected from Susan and Derek would be a slow, doo-wop/early soul influenced song, yet that's exactly what "Do I Look Worried?" is. Derek Trucks' guitar playing, as always, is present on the song, but the rhythm is decidedly different from most of the TTB's material, coming in the form of a waltz, instead of a pop/rock rhythm. This little band has sure gone a long way!!
"Invisible" by U2: This song has a sound that starts out as slightly foreboding, before building up rather quickly to sound more like a pop/rock song, much like the similarly titled "Invisible Sun" by The Police (title stealers, anyone?! Haha, just kidding!) Apparently, Bono released this song as a way for listeners to contribute to a generation he hopes will be free of AIDS. The lyrics in the chorus of the song, about how "you don't see me, but I'm not invisible", are definitely intended to give people hope who are in need of it. The sound of the song walks the line between rock and roll and techno, while feeling much more like the former than the latter, much like a lot of the songs from their '91 album, "Achtung Baby", so I can't complain there! All in all, this is a very fresh, exuberant effort from a band who has stayed together for over three decades!!
"New York Morning" by Elbow: The ultra-mellow feel of this song definitely suggests "morning", but it doesn't quite feel like the loud, hustle bustle atmosphere typically associated with New York (perhaps partly because Elbow are a British band). "New York Morning" is actually a very sweet song, with a lovely story behind it. It is about a married couple named Dennis and Lois, who grew up during the New York punk scene, that the band members knew personally. The experience of these two living in New York is chronicled quite nicely in the music video for this song, which can be viewed here: http://www.stereogum.com/1645701/elbow-new-york-morning-video/video/
"Nothing Quite Like Home" by G. Love and Special Sauce: G. Love and co haven't rocked (or jazzed) out quite this hard since the '90s!! Love (born Garrett Dutton) tended to focus more on acoustic blues and folk for most of the 21st century. "Nothing Quite Like Home" sees Dutton plugged in once again for the first time in quite a while! The opening riff (which is used throughout the song) sounds a little like "Smoke On the Water" if it were sampled by Beck and performed by Ben Harper. As the song says, "There's nothing else quite like home". If by "home", G. Love means the music he was originally known for, then there really is nothing quite like it!
"Spinners" by The Hold Steady: In both sound and lyric, The Hold Steady are pretty much the indie rock version of Bruce Springsteen's E Street Band (though they have a slightly rougher sound)! The Hold Steady's songs are typically slices of life in urban bohemia, with a somewhat angst ridden undercurrent, and "Spinners" is no exception. "Spinners" seems to place a bit more emphasis on how the enjoyment of music ties in to the lifestyle of the band members and their friends, how it both builds them up and tears them apart. As a boy who grew up around the urban bohemia of Los Angeles, I approve (though their hometown is Brooklyn, New York).